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I qualified in Medicine in Liverpool and spent two years working in a hospital in Banjul, The Gambia. I did a PhD at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School on the pathogenesis of infections caused by the fungus, Aspergillus fumigatus. I was then appointed as a Clinical Lecturer in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and completed my specialist medical training in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine. I then started work on Neisseria meningitides, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis through an MRC Clinician Scientist Award in 1997 which included a year’s fellowship at the Centre for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland. I was appointed as a Reader then Professor in Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London in 2001, and came to Exeter and the Dunn School in 2010.


Human bacterial pathogens are a specialized subset of array microbes we encounter as part of our flora. My group seeks to understand the basis of how pathogens colonise specific niches in the body, evade elimination by the immune system, and cause disease. We study Neisseria spp., which are leading causes of bacterial meningitis and gonorrhoea, and focus on how these microbes subvert the host complement system. Work on this fundamental step in pathogenesis has led to structure: function based design of novel vaccine antigens, which are being developed towards clinical trials, and insights into the genetic basis of host susceptibility to meningococcal disease.

The group also investigates the molecular basis of the virulence of the enteric pathogens, Shigella spp. and Yersinia spp. We study the mechanisms involved in the entry of bacteria into non-phagocytic cells, their ability to survive in the intracellular niche, and the response of these important human pathogens to conditions experienced within their natural habitat, the gastrointestinal tract.


I teach the course on Microbiology (six lectures, 20 hours of practical classes) which is part of the Second Year Pathology course for undergraduate Medical Students, and organize and deliver the Final Year Honours theme on Bacteriology.

Selected Publications

Wörmann ME, Horien CL, Bennett JS, Jolley KA, Maiden MC, Tang CM, Aho EL, Exley RM
Sequence, distribution and chromosomal context of class I and class II pilin genes of Neisseria meningitidis identified in whole genome sequences.

BMC Genomics 15: 253.

Loh E., Kugelberg E., Tracy A., Zhang Q., Gollan B., Ewles H., Chalmers R., Pelicic V., Tang C.M
Temperature triggers immune evasion by Neisseria meningitidis.

Nature 502: 237-40.

Marteyn B., West N.P., Browning D.F., Cole J.A., Shaw J.G., Palm F., Mounier J., Prévost M.C., Sansonetti P., Tang C.M
Modulation of Shigella virulence in response to available oxygen in vivo.

Nature 465: 355-8.

Deletion of toxin-antitoxin systems in the evolution of Shigella sonnei as a host-adapted pathogen.
McVicker G, Tang CM.
Nat Microbiol. 2016 2: 16204.


In Our Time: Penicillin